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Thursday Three: Buried treasures.

July 1, 2010

This week’s Thursday Three is dedicated to those lesser-known gems by artists one loves and cherishes. Sometimes a band, musician or artists gets so overshadowed by the tracks that made them famous that the secret treats that lay buried in their back catalogs aren’t unearthed by anyone but die hard fans. However, in this day and age of the everything-at-your-fingertips-ness of the Internet, it’s a little bit easier to share some of these overlooked treasures with the world. Or, you know, with the 12 people who read this blog. Anyway, without further ado, here are three buried treasures that I’ve been lucky enough to discover.

Aretha Franklin – “One Step Ahead”: I am tempted to just post this track three times and call it a day, as it truly is a shining diamond among the already glittering gems of Aretha Franklin’s career. The track was only ever released as a 1965 Columbia Records single, never appearing on any official studio album. It was released before Aretha became known for smash hits like “Respect”, “Chain of Fools” and “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You)”. And while I adore Aretha’s hits like no other – and they truly deserve to be hits – I find myself loving this song in a totally different way. It’s a surprise for someone who is more familiar with Aretha’s big singles and albums – it has so much understatement to it and restrained-yet-ache-riddled longing to it. It quietly blows so much of what she’s done out of the water and proves how versatile she truly is. The song was famously sampled by in Mos Def’s track “Ms. Fat Booty”, a song I’ve dug for awhile. But now all it makes me want to do is listen to this song.

Bananarama “No Feelings”: It may seem odd to think of English pop trio Bananarama doing a cover of a Sex Pistols track, but it actually makes perfect sense. Like more than one pop act of the early 80s, the Banana’s roots were in the punk scene. The gals used to live above a rehearsal room rented by former Sex Pistols members Paul Cook and Steve Jones who ended up recording Bananarama’s first single, an equally surprising cover of “Aie a Mwana”, a song sung in Swahili and originally recorded by a group called Black Blood. The ‘Rams cover of “No Feelings” was originally only released as part of the soundtrack to Party Party. The original version is in the expected Sex Pistols guitar-driven style. Bananarama’s take on it is far more in keeping with their early sound, mixing girl-group chants with a Caribbean-tinged, percussive flavor. It’s now available as a bonus track on the reissue of their first album Deep Sea Skiving, a criminally overlooked goldmine of early 80s, shambolic pop. But I first encountered it when my pal DJ El Toro was kind enough to share it with me, one crazed Bananarama fan to another. And I’ve adored it ever since.

Cyndi Lauper – “Hole In My Heart (All the Way to China)”: Oh, Cyndi Lauper, I miss your truly wacky ways of the 80s compared to the overly constructed, utterly joyless wackiness of that Lady something-or-other woman all the queens are so crazy about these days. This song was part of the soundtrack to you totally failed film debut Vibes in which you and Jeff Goldblum played kooky psychics on some sort of a quest or another. It is likely that this song was such a clunker on the charts due to this colossal failure of the film. But I actually have always counted this song among my favorites of yours. Your voice sounds fantastic, the music is catchy as hell and the video is wackadoo as all get out. I have some issues with some of the stereotypical imagery in it but then you pull a guitar out of a laundry bin and rock the hell out of it and it makes it all a little better. And video aside, the song is great and it always bummed me out that it got such a cold reception just because it was a part of that truly bad, bad, bad movie.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2010 9:30 am

    You know my feelings about, um, “No Feelings,” but how delightful to see “Hole in My Heart” in your roundup, too. It vexes me no end that “Hole” is impossible to find on CD or in any digital format; I get tired of lugging around the 45 to DJ gigs. But I do, because I still think it’s one of her best singles! (But boy, that movie is a snooze.)

    • July 1, 2010 10:52 am

      It’s a totally underrated song! I think this one mega Cyndi Lauper fan I used to know found it on some obscure Japanese import CD that cost him far too much money to get one rare song from it. But I was lucky enough to, um, “find it” in digital form.

  2. mixtapesforhookers permalink
    July 1, 2010 12:35 pm

    “Hole In My Heart” is BY FAR my favorite Cyndi single, and in fact I spent most of my life in a bubble thinking it was a major cultural point of the eighties when in fact it was like a #53 single or something. I was lucky enough to get the 7″ a while back, and it’s been known to surface online now and again. (Ahem.)

    About five years ago I couldn’t go record shopping without seeing at least three copies of the “Party Party” soundtrack. It’s not so hot overall, though once I finally bought it it took about five listens before I realized what Bananarama were actually singing. (Deep Sea Skiving’s pretty great, too!)

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